Sunday, June 29, 2008

This Is Why I Maintain Hope

Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the two IDF reservists abducted by Hezbollah two years ago in a raid that sparked the Second Lebanon War, are to be released in a prisoner exchange deal with Hezbollah approved by the cabinet yesterday. In exchange for the captive soldiers, Israel will release jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, who murdered a Nahariya family in 1979, and four Hezbollah militants, the remains of Lebanese civilians and several dozen Palestinian prisoners.

The vote in the Israeli Cabinet wasn't close, 22 in favor and only 3 opposed. While many people believe Regev and Goldwasser to be dead, and information about Israeli Airman Ron Arad sketchy at best (his plane was shot down over Lebanon), it is still a significant step toward peace. The cabinet ministers were influenced by IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who said: "I am the commander of all the soldiers ... of the living and the dead, and therefore I say to you the deal must be approved."

The deal will take place in four stages:
  • first, the signing of the agreement, which should happen in the next two or three days
  • next, Hezbollah will hand over a report on efforts to obtain information on missing airman Ron Arad, MIA in Lebanon since 1986. In exchange, Israel will give Hezbollah a report on the fate of four Iranian diplomats kidnapped and murdered during the Lebanon war in the 1980s.
  • Stage three requires United Nations hostage negotiator and intelligence expert Gerhard Konrad's approval of the reports. If he approves, Hezbollah will return Goldwasser and Regev - or their remains if they are no longer alive, along with the remains of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon. Israel will return Kuntar to Hezbollah, along with four Hezbollah militants who were captured in the Second Lebanon War and the remains of a few dozen bodies
  • Stage four will occur within a month of the exchange, as Israel releases a number of Palestinian prisoners of Israel's choosing.

It matters. It matters for any number of reasons, not the least of which is a step toward normalizing relationships and putting an end to hostilities. It matters, because sworn enemies are talking to each other. It matters, it matters.

Moshe Dayan said: If you want to make peace, you don't talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies.


Pagan Sphinx said...

I'm here to let you know that I celebrate this development along with you; it's a start. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.


D.K. Raed said...

I'm sorry to admit it had been so long, I had forgotten about these 2 soldiers, even though I very much remember when they first went missing. It's important for the reasons you stated (enemies talking can never be a bad thing) as well as so the families can find out what happened. I am now holding out hope they are alive.

FranIAm said...

I have a cousin in the IDF who is an ardent Zionist (was it only 4 years ago that he made aliyah, a drifting, pot-smoking, aimless vegan kid from NJ?)who is bulked up and ready to kill all.

I am sure that he thinks this is wrong and that Israel should just blow the crap out of everyone else.

Like you however, I hold out hope and I pray for peace.

It has to start somewhere and usually, as Dayan indicates, it is talking to those who oppose you.

DivaJood said...

Pagan, a start is something. And it could bode well in the Hamas/Israel negotiations.

DK, yes, and there is also the soldier that Hamas took in Gaza.

Fran, perhaps not - perhaps your cousin will become somewhat of a pacifist. I hope.